1 Sizzlin’ kitchen
A plastic, double-sided kitchen, this is a reasonably priced, relatively sturdy piece of kit. With plenty of storage for the 50-piece cutlery, crockery, utensil and pots and pans set you get with it, there are lots of bits and pieces for little fingers to fiddle with. On the one side, you have the sink, tap and dishwasher, complete with removable basin and rack for your dishes. At the top, taller kids will enjoy stacking their dinner plates after preparing their tea party.
On the other side, there’s the oven, hob and a deep-fat fryer, so brace yourself for endless plates of imaginary sausage and chips. The knobs make a satisfying click, the hob sizzles and there are handy places to hang your utensils and pans from on high. The kitchen has no wheels, but the whole contraption is light enough for you to lift through to your cooking area if desired.
Dhs599 (including accessory kit worth Dhs225) from Early Learning Centre (04 394 1204).
2 Pastel Island kitchen
A top-quality product, this wooden kitchen is delightful and, if you’re fussy about interior design, it won’t look out of place in your carefully crafted cooking space. Taller than many other models, it has a more grown-up feel and is certainly more likely to last the full five years than many of the cheaper, plastic models. Double-sided, it has taps, a sink and a dishwasher on one side, and an oven and two-ring hob on the other. Above the head, there’s a microwave and a chalk board to keep track of orders from demanding parents.
The kitchen is on castors, handy if you like to move it around, perhaps bringing it into the kitchen while you’re cooking. The whole thing looks great, but it is in pastel lemon and pink, so budding Gordon Ramsays may find it bit too girlie. This comes just as it is, so any accessories – and ELC stocks matching kettle, bread bin, toaster and so on – will have to be bought separately, adding to the already hefty price tag.
Dhs949 from Early Learning Centre (04 394 1204).
3 Just Like Home: Jumbo Kitchen Centre
One of a range from the same company, this multi-coloured, double-sided number looks good from a distance, but is flimsy and rickety close up. We’re not sure it would last the beatings, mixings and whiskings it will no doubt be put through in its supposed four-year lifespan. It has everything for the budding chef, though: oven, hob, ‘hot’ plates, cupboards, towel rails, and it comes with a 65+ piece set of cutlery, crockery, utensils, bakeware and groceries. There’s even a vegetable rack, complete with plastic veggies, and an oven glove. This one is cheap and cheerful but probably not the most durable on the block.
Dhs299 from Toys R Us (04 206 6564).
4 Disney Royal Talking Princess Kitchen
Certainly not a unisex model, this is a girly girl’s dream. Overdosing on that putrid pink that only Disney can do, this kitchen comes with turrets and towers, so it’s far more than your run-of-the-mill cooking station. Of course, it does all the things a kitchen should, with hob, oven, sink and plenty of storage. It also makes the relevant noises – the taps whoosh, the hob sizzles and the oven dings.
There’s even a recipe book that makes magical sounds as you turn the pages and there are other talking phrases such as ‘Dinner smells delicious, have the guests arrived yet?’ which can be endearing or annoying, depending on your frame of mind. Single-sided, this comes with a range of accessories including a Mrs Potts teapot, pan with fried egg, a baking tray complete with muffins and cookies, and cups and saucers. True, it’s a fairytale kitchen, but given it took the toy manager 40 minutes to put the base together, it looks like a right royal pain in the behind to assemble.
Dhs395 from Babyshop (04 515 4309).
5 Haba Lino Kitchen
The mother of all kids’ kitchens, this is better quality, more professionally put together, and quite possibly more expensive than the one in which you, mums and dads, slave away every day. In traditional wooden style, there’s nothing here that whirrs, dings, clicks or sizzles, so it’s purely left to your children’s imagination what they cook up for you. When we tested this one, there were kids climbing all over it, opening and closing the extremely slammable oven door and thoroughly enjoying making mini-treats for passing guests.
There’s a stove, sink, oven, dishwasher and lots of storage, including an overhead rack. Any kitchen accoutrements will have to be bought separately, but Haba has some fantastically kooky kit, including cuddly roast chickens, squidgy sausages and kebabs, and dinky tins of wooden toast and pineapple rings. Not for the faint of wallet, if you can afford it, this kitchen will delight your kids and quite possibly your grandkids, too.
Dhs4,538 from Kidz Inc (04 340 5059).